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There is a ‘wilderness soul’ in almost all Australian health professionals – call it driven by the ‘can do’ nerve. Putting it into practice while visiting and participating in clinical work adds a unique opportunity during remote area travel. Unconventional Conventions takes health professionals to intriguing clinics as Myanmar, Kenya and Bhutan.

Clinical roles include consultations, health assessments, minor interventions and dental or nursing therapy, particularly during prolonged stays. From all reports, providing pro-bono health care as a volunteer is rewarded with personal satisfaction.

Acceptance of working at locations with meagre facilities, plus working on back to basic principles, is refreshing professional development. History taking and physical examinations become dependent on communication through an interpreter.

Ideally, the logistics of these clinic experiences need to cost neutral. Small health centres may be small hospitals, isolated buildings or just a table with chairs under a shade tree. The facility will be understaffed and under-resourced.

Professional staff training varies, but the staff are very enthusiastic and eager to learn new skills applicable to their clinical context (such as how to brush teeth or clean a wound). The learning is visible in the attention shown by local health workers. The onus is to keep advice or therapy to a practical, understandable level.

Most cases are infections, wounds and ulcers resulting from animal-induced injuries. Motorcycle exhaust burns are next.

Challenges for western trained health professionals challenges include rational antibiotic use, dietary advice and traditional therapies. Follow up and compliance can be problematic. Patients, facility staff and communities are grateful for the genuine interest taken by visitors in their wellbeing and welfare.

What are the requirements for remote healthcare professionals? Is it adaptability and an attitude of acceptance? Conditions may be confronting and health issues can be perplexing. Often there are no quick fixes with no avenues for a referral to more extended care.

So pack up your bag and sojourn as a professional in a remote environment. The experience could be life-and career-changing.

Dr Gary Kilov (1:42)
Dr Asha Nair (1:31)
Dr Ralph Audehm (1:11)
Dr Diana Hart & Dr Roger Scurr (1:39)